Will the GOP Finally Learn From Its Mistakes?

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After an underwhelming performance in the midterm elections, the Republican Party is preparing to conduct a review to determine what went wrong and how to improve efforts to reach voters going forward. This development comes after the GOP won control of the House by a slimmer margin than was expected. The Democrats managed to retain control of the Senate.

In the aftermath of the elections, the Republican National Committee (RNC) is reportedly starting a review of the party’s performance. It is bringing on a slew of outside advisers to help craft a better strategy for the 2024 elections.

“The RNC is tapping nearly a dozen people to serve in what it’s calling a “Republican Party Advisory Council” – a group that includes former Donald Trump White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, evangelical leader Tony Perkins and a pair of Senate candidates who ran this year,” according to Politico.

This effort is similar to the “autopsy” the party performed after the 2012 elections and will be led by Harmeet Dhillon, RNC National Committeewoman from California, and Henry Barbour, RNC National Committeeman from Mississippi. It is expected that the GOP will publish its findings during the first half of 2023.

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel released a statement announcing the creation of the council, explaining that the party is “gathering a diverse range of respected leaders in our movement to join together and help chart a winning course in the years to come.”

McDaniel has come under fire from many on the right, who have suggested she is not doing enough to move the party forward. New York Rep. Lee Zeldin, who narrowly lost his governor’s race in the elections, indicated that he is “seriously considering” challenging McDaniel for her position. There are many in conservative circles who would welcome the change in leadership.

In a piece for the Washington Examiner, author Kenny Cody noted that while leadership in the House and Senate has been blamed for the disappointing midterm showing, “the anger should really be directed toward the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee.”

“The RNC needs someone accountable instead of continuing with the status quo of losing,” he wrote later in the article.

One of the objectives of the council will be to develop a strategy for reaching racial minority voters and suburban females. These are groups that the GOP has struggled to win for years.

While McDaniel has been a major target for criticism, people have also pointed fingers at former President Donald Trump for endorsing deeply flawed candidates who lost in critical elections. The Washington Examiner noted:

Pundits say Mr. Trump’s attacks on the electoral process, coupled with the Supreme Court decision this summer to overturn Roe v. Wade and the nationwide right to abortion, were a drag on the party, particularly with women and young people, despite the economic headwinds against President Biden and Democrats.

McDaniel’s supporters indicated that they are confident that she has enough support to be re-elected when the committee convenes for its winter meeting in January. They released a list of more than 100 members who plan to vote for her. She needs 85 of the 168 members to vote for her to win re-election, which is a sign that perhaps Republicans are not going to learn their lesson.

Ronna McDaniel’s leadership is one of several problems holding the GOP back from developing a winning strategy to win over voters. As I have suggested previously, the Republican Party has a serious messaging problem, often focusing on how horrible Democrats are instead of showing the American people how they would solve the problems many are facing today.

The lack of effective minority outreach has also been a stumbling block for the GOP. But there are signs of improvement. The party did better with black and Latino voters than they have previously. But much of this was due more to disillusionment with the Democrats than anything else. If the Republican Party wants its candidates to become more appealing to minority voters, it will have to overhaul its approach toward these communities.

So far, it is not clear whether the GOP will learn the hard lessons it needs to create a more effective political machine. We have seen this movie before, haven’t we? When the results of the council are published, I expect they will look eerily similar to the autopsy that was conducted in 2012. The question is: Will they actually execute on the plan this time around?


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